Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is in charge of Uttar Pradesh, is trying hard to make Congress relevant in the politics of the biggest state of the country. The two of the largest communities in Uttar Pradesh are Scheduled Castes and Muslims and Priyanka is “tutoring” one big leader from each community to bring the Muslim and Scheduled Caste votes back into the Congress fold.
The chosen leader for the Muslim community is Kafeel Khan, the doctor who came to light in the BRD Medical College case where more than 50 chilldren died due to Japanese enchephalistis. Recently, the doctor turned activist who was behind bars, met Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to thank her for support and assistance. Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and the party’s state minority cell’s chief Shahnawaz Alam were also present during the meeting.
In the last few months Priyanka has used Khan to target the Muslim vote bank which has slipped to regional parties in the last few decades. Muslims have started voting for regional parties in most of the states- AIUDF in Assam, TMC in West Bengal, JD(U) and RJD in Bihar, SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh, AIMIM in Telangana, IUML in Kerala and so on- given the higher chances these parties have to defeat BJP.
Priyanka Vadra came out in open support of Kafeel Khan to show that Congress remains the only party which cares for the Muslims of the country. In fact, she provided assistance to Khan’s family to move to Rajasthan from Uttar Pradesh, as the state has a Congress government. Khan himself said that his family would feel safe in the state as it has a Congress government.
To make Kafeel Khan a full fledged celebrity activist like Arundhati Roy or Medha Patkar, the party has allegedly encouraged Khan to take his case to United Nations Human Rights Commission (it is a different matter that nobody listens to UNHRC, although, it will bring Khan in attention of left-liberal media establishment).
On the other hand, Priyanka’s bet for Scheduled Caste is Chandrashekhar Azad, who has not yet joined Congress party but might join before the UP elections. Congress has a history of giving space to fringe elements. In Gujarat, the party accommodate the radical Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani and also Hardik Patel. Given the fact fringe elements like Mewani found space in Congress in Gujarat, it would not be a surprise if Chandrashekhar Azad is instituted in the Congress fold in the state with the largest concentration of Dalit population.
Last year, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia (who quit Congress to join BJP) with Congress party’s Uttar Pradesh president Raj Babbar visited to a hospital in Meerut to meet Chandrashekhar Azad. So, she is already tutoring him on crafty politics which was visible in Hathras incident.
The 22 percent Scheduled Caste vote is crucial for any party in Uttar Pradesh and Mayawati became the CM of the state five times riding on this voter base. And now, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wants to snatch this large voter base from Mayawati.
Earlier Mulayam Singh Yadav formed the coalition of Yadavs and Muslims to win the election while Maywati tried the Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim formula. Now Priyanka Vadra wants to bring the Muslim and Scheduled Caste vote bank together to win over Uttar Pradesh. This has potential to harm not only SP and BSP, but BJP, too, given the fact that non-Jatav SC and non-Yadav OBC voted for the party in large numbers in the last assembly election and last two general elections. However, whether Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would be able to capitalize on these two leaders to bag the votes of the two of the largest communities in the state will be an interesting factor to watch in the coming years.